Victor Woodrow Wertz (February 9, 1925 – July 7, 1983) was an American professional baseball first baseman and outfielder. He had a seventeen-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career from 1947 to 1963. He played for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins; all teams within the American League.
Wertz with the St. Louis Browns in 1953
|Right fielder / First baseman|
|Born: February 9, 1925|
|Died: July 7, 1983 (aged 58)|
|April 15, 1947, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 19, 1963, for the Minnesota Twins|
|Runs batted in||1,178|
|Career highlights and awards|
Wertz was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers in 1942, and played in their minor league system until making his major league debut in 1947. He hit for the cycle on September 14, 1947, while in his rookie season with Detroit.
Wertz finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting five times: 1949 (10th), 1950 (10th), 1956 (9th), 1957 (6th), and 1960 (14th).
Wertz was among the Top 10 in the American League in home runs in 1949 (20), 1950 (27), 1951 (27), 1952 (23), 1953 (19), 1956 (32), and 1957 (28). His 1956 total of 32 home runs was 2nd best in the AL. For his career, he hit 266 home runs and 1,178 RBIs with a .469 career slugging average and a .364 career on-base percentage.
Wertz started 1954 as a member of the newly formed Baltimore Orioles, who had moved from St.Louis where they played had played as the Browns. The Orioles played in the then mammoth Memorial Stadium (Baltimore) that frustrated the power-hitting left-handed hitter. On June 1, 1954, he was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Cleveland Indians for Bob Chakales. When he was traded he was hitting only .202 with one home run after 29 games. He immediately became the starting first baseman for the Indians replacing Bill Glynn (baseball) who held down the position the previous year. In the 1954 World Series, Wertz hit a long fly ball that Willie Mays caught, known as "The Catch". It went over 400 feet (120 m) to dead center of the Polo Grounds in New York, and a sportswriter said, "It would have been a home run in any other park, including Yellowstone."
After he retired from playing, Wertz kept a photo of “The Catch” in his office at his beer distribution company and explained he had no negative feelings about being remembered for hitting a deep fly out. "I'm very proud that I'm associated with it," Wertz told UPI in 1979. "I look at it this way: If that ball Willie caught had been a home run or a triple, how many people would've remembered me? Not many. This way, everybody who meets me for the first time always identifies me with Willie's catch, and that makes me feel good."
Vic Wertz Field at the Berks County Youth Recreation Facility in Pennsylvania is named in his honor. The field was dedicated on April 19, 2013.
Wertz was a World War II veteran. During and after his baseball career, Wertz worked in the Detroit area beer distribution business . When he retired to Mount Clemens, Michigan, he formed "Wertz Warriors", a group of sportsmen who raised funds for the Special Olympics Winter Games. He was the founder of an 800-mile snowmobile endurance ride, run annually in Michigan starting in 1982 to benefit the Special Olympics.
Wertz died during heart surgery at Detroit's Harper Hospital on the morning of July 7, 1983. Surgeons were performing a coronary bypass and replacing a valve in his heart after he had suffered a heart attack the previous day. He is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.
- "Detroit Tigers 16, Washington Senators 6 (1)". Retrosheet. September 14, 1947.
- Deane, Bill (October 2005). "Catching up with Vic Wertz's 1954 World Series Drive". Baseball Digest. Retrieved May 9, 2017 – via The Glory of Baseball.
- Foster, Terry (January 31, 1985). "They'll snowmobile 800 miles for Special Olympics". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 17, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
- "Former major leaguer Wertz, 58, dies during heart surgery". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California. AP. July 8, 1983. Retrieved November 17, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet
- Vic Wertz at SABR (Baseball BioProject)
- Vic Wertz at Find a Grave
| Hitting for the cycle
September 14, 1947